TITLE ME THIS….

I’ve had more than enough delays in getting this new manuscript together and just when I’m down to the last few pages before editing I find myself with another setback.

With “White Wolf Moon” I learned a lot of things. One of these was the problem with titles and/or author names when it comes to online searching. There’s a Michael Grant that writes a lot of books, mostly young adult, so I elected to go with “Mike Grant”. It’s still an issue when it comes to searches but a minor one that I can live with (as if I had a choice). But it’s surprising how many titles contain “White Wolf” or “Wolf Moon”.

My working title for the current project was “Of Old Men and Wolves”. Considering the content and the depth to which I dig into lifelong friends, relationships and wolves it seemed apropos. Today however I stumbled across “Of Wolves and Men” (which sounds like a great book BTW) by Barry Lopez and the hunt for a title is back on.

I don’t want the same search issues I had with “White Wolf Moon” which is why I’ve been steering away from the logical sequel titles that contain elements linked to the first book.

The title is obviously one of the most important parts of the process and while not many caught the double meaning of “White Wolf Moon” it did say what I wanted it to say. I also used a photograph for the cover that stood out as well. It is a morning river scene taken behind my house that was originally greens and earth tones but it was colorized blue to create a moonlit riverbank. I hope to use the unaltered original photo as the cover for the second book which would provide a not-so-subtle tie-in to the first.

RIVER02

But what text will adorn this cover? That’s the big question…again.

As I am the only one to know what this new book contains I should have a handle on what to call it. I thought I did. From the time I came up with “Of Old Men and Wolves” I loved the title and it made this book different from the other. Even though I’m using the same characters this manuscript felt new and different but thinking of it as the “sequel” again is tough. I think I’ll still call it “Of Old Men and Wolves” for now. I know there’s another perhaps more fitting series of words bouncing around in my head but I think I need to concentrate on finishing the inside pages first. I’m sure another title will come to me…hopefully sooner rather than later.

 

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NOTHING BEATS ‘REAL’ BOOKS….

Last week I was sitting at the laptop working on some editing when there came a tap-tap on the door. It was Mr. Courier with a parcel I wasn’t expecting. I signed, closed the door and then spent the obligatory time trying to figure out what was inside that plastic envelope. I tore off the tabs and found a heavy cardboard box. Inside was a carefully bubble-wrapped book. Resisting the urge to ‘pop-pop-pop’ I removed the wrapping and found this:

morris

It’s from a friend of mine that I haven’t seen since 1967 although we do get together by phone frequently and occasionally on facebook. “The Lords and the New Creatures” is Jim Morrison’s first book and this is a First Edition, First Printing hard cover. Other than minor edge and corner creasing and light surface wear to the dust jacket, it appears new. And it should. It was purchased from the 3 Rings bookshop in Monterey in 1970 and has been stored on a shelf or in boxes since then. It even ‘cracked’ when I opened it.

I’ve wanted this book for years but due to financial consideration could I only get a couple of well-used trade-size first editions. Had I not found those I suppose I could have downloaded it…no, I couldn’t. No matter how you cut it a downloaded copy of any book is not the same book. It’s a plastic screen versus the light perfume of age and the texture and the feel of real paper. It’s sticky-back vinyl woodgrain versus real hardwood…it’s just pretend.

As I held this book I sensed the value in my hands. Not just monetary (although it has that) but the plain, simple value of existence. Here is a book written and published in the late sixties. It bears the burden of ambiance…that feeling of being there when you flip through the pages. It’s that feeling that is the true value.

If you’d care to borrow this book…yeah, no. I have some paperback copies I’d lend you but this copy doesn’t leave my house. It’s in a safe spot, carefully protected (though still on display) so that fifty or one hundred years from now someone I’ll never know can hopefully have the appreciation for it that I have today.

For me this book is also a connection to a friend of nearly fifty years. Thank you Neil.

KNOW THY FOE (the missing 75th blog).

This is the blog I had decided not to post but I was informed by a friend that I had been mentioned on one of the anti-wolf pages a few months ago. Although I can’t find the mention it appears they miss me. Since I wrote this in July I have steered away from confrontation with those folks and I have not visited their pages…just a waste of time really. That much negativity and plain stupidity isn’t good for the emotional diet. So with apologies to those who expected more about White Wolf Moon and the sequel I present the following (far wordier than usual) tirade.

Let it be

The following is a lot more than a “bit” of a rant. It has been sitting on my desktop for weeks as I have resisted posting it due to length and subject matter. I know I promised “no more wolf rants” but this one has been festering for quite some time and I really need to vent. I decided to upload this a few days ago but fortunately I used some judgement and had it pre-approved before actually posting it. The wife of a friend of mine is a legal authority on writing, slander laws, and the like so I sent it to her first. It came back as the edited version that follows…shorter by about eighty words and without the names, locations, places of employment, and any other details that might actually identify the people involved. Seems I could have gotten into a heap of legal problems had I not had the foresight to have done this. It matters not though…all one has to do is what I did and study a few members of this sub-culture for oneself.

First I need to go on record, as I have many times in the past, and state that I appreciate that the particular people I researched for this writing are, I’d like to believe, in the minority. I’d also like to remind people that I am not opposed to responsible hunters and hunting and, while I don’t agree with it, I can see that there could be situations where the wolf population may need to be controlled or “maintained”. I hasten to add that in order for something to be maintained it first has to be working and, as far as balance in the ecosystem goes, it isn’t. Concerning all the cries about elk decimation and livestock predation…well, check the facts and numbers for yourself. There is simply no basis for using these as justifications for wiping out an entire species (which is the wish of the majority of posters to these anti-wolf sites).

According to most of the comments I receive from the anti-wolf side I’m a city-dweller. I’m also ignorant and uneducated and have never lived on a farm or even seen the country. I have no respect for wildlife, never had experience with wild wolves and I’ve never fired a gun. I refuse to accept “science and fact” because I live in a fantasy world where I believe wolves are the cuddliest critters and would welcome them into my home as pets. I have been called a psycho, a wolfaboo (I’d personally like to thank the six-year-old that came up with that one), a tree-hugger, a wolf-humper, and the most offensive of all to me, a NAZI (the final straw that started this blog). Obviously I didn’t include the more colourful and disgusting names they saddle us with or the poetically picturesque expletives accompanying each of these comments. Suffice to say that if profanity be the tool of the inarticulate some of these folks are master craftsmen. Other than the fact that I am currently dwelling in a small city absolutely none of the above is true yet this is pretty much how they see me and all pro-wildlife people.

Ahah, I thought, they assume they know me…perhaps I should find out a little about them, besides I’ve grown really tired of being called “a igorant city dweler” by people who can’t spell. I clicked on a total of eight of the contributors to three anti-wolf sites all with, as my grandson says, potty mouths. For this exercise I wasn’t interested in the noticeably few rational and relatively well-spoken posters (surprisingly none of the page moderators fall into this category). I sought out only those who take delight in branding anyone who doesn’t agree with them “a special kind of stupid” among other things. Incidentally “a special kind of stupid” is the parroted buzz phrase right now. One person uses it and everybody does…it’s a Lemming thing. And I certainly hope Judge Judy is collecting royalties for her “can’t cure stupid” comment because that too is over-used whenever they can’t come up with anything better (which is pretty much all the time). Another current flavour phrase of the day is “SSS” which is a recurring theme and seems to be the one to fall back on when again, surprisingly, nothing else comes to mind. Then there’s the “wolf lovers should put on their big girl panties” slam that was going around for a while. I guess hackneyed stuff like this is supposed to upset me but honestly I simply see it as merely a pathetic attempt for attention by immature individuals, nothing more.

Amazingly many of these folks have yet to figure out those dang privacy settings therefore tapping into their personal facebook pages was pretty easy. That should have been a clue. The first thing I noticed was that not many of them have the mettle to stand behind their convictions. They choose not to have a photograph of themselves or to use their real names, preferring to wallow in the anonymity of a small, secret world. We certainly wouldn’t want family or friends (or the boss) to know how twisted we really are now, would we? Plus it’s really easy to be opinionated when nobody knows who you are and you don’t have to account for your gibberish. By the way it’s also surprisingly easy to find out who has two pages, one for their trash-filled hate comments/photos and another for the lovin’ family & friends. I found a few of them but one in particular was really quite psychotic and disturbing as this man holds a rather respectable and responsible position in Public Service, is a devout Christian, and is regarded as a grandfatherly pillar of the community in a small western state town. But like a real-life Jekyll and Hyde his secret identity page displays a totally different persona and contains the foulest, most hateful comments of any that I checked out (don’t worry “Unka Bill” your secret is still safe with me…for now). I actually got a chuckle from one of the more clever A.K.A.s…“Richard Cranium”. That’s one of those nom de plumes that pretty well sums it up. Those that do have the confidence to post pictures of themselves all look pretty much alike. Camo, manly rifle, self-serving pose and grin…you know…same old same old. These photos are very much like the comments they post about the pro side that offer up no originality…just clip and paste. There’s even a photo of a hunter holding up an obviously photo-shopped wolf. This has accompanied stories of hunts in four states and one province. Dang dead wolf sure gets around. Over the past few months when they’ve posted their worn-out opinions on some of the pro pages I have suggested they come up with some new material but I have yet to see any so I’m guessing they can’t. Like summer re-runs, it has all become so predictable and boring.

Let’s move on to some of the “other likes” on most of these pages.

In the words of George Takei, “Oh my….”

A quick glance revealed that most of these folks don’t just hate wolves…they hate pretty much everything except beer ‘n bullets and teenage girls. Rape jokes, gender, and racial slurs abound. “My wife wanted rights so I gave them to her…and a couple of lefts for good measure.” Really? No wonder you’re hiding in the shadows dude. There were a number of the usual hunting pages which is fine but there were also a surprising and disturbing number of graphic animal (not just wolf) torture pages, everything from dogs to deer. Okay…that’s a serious mental deficiency no matter how you cut it and regardless of which side you’re on. One of these fine folks also ‘liked’ the Jeffrey Dahmer facebook page…I guess we all need heroes. Two of my lab rats actually like “animal mating” pages. Wow, critter porn. I bet their favourite book is the Camel Sutra. One interpretation of the Constitution caught my attention and actually says more about this person than anything else. Under his profile pic (a rather bloodied cougar) were the words “I have the right to bear arms, I have the right to kill.” Enough said about the mentality behind those words.

Moving along…Ted Nugent seems to be the next Messiah and Jessie Ventura is his dad which I tend to read as paranoia with guns but I could be wrong. A few are still following Scott Rockholm even though he’s finally been exposed as the conman most rational people already knew he was (see the suggested “to cover my butt” link at the end of this blog).

A couple of these folks also celebrated “May is Masturbation Month” which goes a long way to explaining why they always seem to be seeking attention. In a similar and perhaps related discovery the number of liked “upskirt”, “Hot Teen Girls”, “MILF”, and “bikini-butt” pages would indicate to me that there are a lot of thirteen-year-old boys playing Mighty Joe Wolf Hunter but again, I could be wrong. If I am wrong and this is actually a statement on adult intelligence…well, that’s pretty sad.

So there you have it…my first and last excursion into the slimy sediment at the bottom of the well of life. There’s a lot more but I think this is enough. It was an eye-opener to say the least, especially discovering what is really out there on some facebook pages. I guess I’ve led a sheltered life, for which I am thankful and I’m more than happy to return to the sunshine of my world. As I said these are some of the more extreme voices and like the extreme voices on the other side of this emotional issue they shouldn’t be speaking on behalf of everyone who has an opinion. Unfortunately most times they do.

P.S. – Before posting I did my pre-determined final search of a couple of these pages in the hope that I would find something positive with which to close this. I did. One anti-wolf site has banned a couple of the people that provided some of this material and I do commend them for that although some of those that haven’t been banned aren’t a whole lot better. It is this sort of nonsense that gets the general public up at arms and does nothing but create and strengthen the backlash that is growing increasingly more wide-spread and militant. They also cast all of the six-percent of the population that are hunters in a bad light and I can’t believe that ‘responsible’ hunters out there aren’t ‘up in arms’ at the way these guys and these pages are representing them. Hopefully it isn’t because it’s an accurate representation?

Whether these people are banned from pages or not, they are still out there using whatever means they can to destroy any chance of any useful dialogue and that’s too bad. There is a lot of emotion on both sides and both sides feel they are 100 percent right so finding a way to meet halfway on this issue will always be a struggle. I do believe there’s a middle ground but as long as some folks insist on living in the dark tunnels beneath we may never find it.

http://www.idahoforwildlife.com/component/content/article/2-content/30-wolves-in-anti-wolf-clothing

THRIFT SHOPS

In White Wolf Moon Evan’s study is cluttered with odds and ends mostly acquired at thrift shops. This is yet another trait we have in common.

When Marie called that the tea was steeping Jenn walked back to the large country-style kitchen. “Interesting room at the end of the hall,” she said.

“Evermore, I guess…his refuge. He really values his time alone. That and the darkroom are his favorite places. Ask him to show you around, it’s pretty interesting in there. Cream?”

“Please,” Jenn said as she joined Marie at the counter. “Where did he get all that stuff?”

“Flea markets, yard sales…wherever there are tables with piles of non-descript stuff you’ll find Evan. It’s his addiction. He wandered back from the thrift shop with a doll a while ago. I looked at it and couldn’t believe he’d even paid a buck for it. The face was cracked, her arms were broken and her hair was matted. She was a mess. He spent quite a few evenings fixing her up, painting her and stitching her clothes.” Marie smiled at her young guest. “I think her name is Jenny?”

“And the weirdness just keeps growing,” Jenn mumbled. “Why would he buy a doll? Is it an antique maybe?”

“It’s old but not worth anything. He just felt sorry for her.”

“Pardon?”

“He was pretty sure that nobody else would buy her in that condition so to save Jenny from the trash he gave her a home.”

“I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.”

The wolf pictured below is like the real-life Jenny.

WLFBA

At first glance was overpriced at $3.00 but, like Evan, I wondered who else but me would actually buy this poor creature. A closer look revealed an acceptable sculpt that deserved a shot at life on my shelf and so I painted my first wolf. After spraying a white base-coat I decided to use the ‘wash’ method…thinned layers of brown and black paints gradually building to where I wanted them. This took longer than I thought it would, thus the delay in this blog posting, but I’m relatively happy with the way it turned out (although I still have some finishing touches left) and it fits nicely with the others on the shelf.

I collect too many things. Aliens, Predators, Matchbox and Hot Wheels cars, records, books…again like Evan, the list goes on and on. I have 2,500 Hot Wheels alone but 450 of them are loose, not in the package. Those 450 were found at yard sales and flea markets but most were from thrift shops.

“Now where?” Jenn asked Evan as the light changed to ‘walk’.

“A thrift shop, just a street up.”

“Is that where you found Jenny?”

“You know about Jenny? No, she was from the hospital shop a few blocks back.”

“Marie told me about her. I gather you buy a lot of stuff at thrift stores.”

“And yard sales, flea markets…that sort of thing. I like finding collectibles…toys mostly, and I love rebuilding old stuff. Most of the smaller furniture pieces in the house are refinished cast-offs.”

“When was the last time you bought anything new?”

He squinted, thinking. “1978.”

“Really? And that was?”

“Underwear.”

I recently talked with a woman who would NEVER shop at a store like this. “You don’t know where that stuff has been” seemed to be her main reason. I admit that whatever I buy does go through a thorough cleaning once I get it home but to me that’s just common sense. I personally think she considers herself ‘above’ that sort of thing but I could be wrong.

I consider thrift shopping to be a big part of recycling and the old “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” rings true. We have a few of these stores in my town, mostly local charities raising money to help keep community services operating. These are my ‘go to’ stores. I prefer knowing that most of my money is also being recycled into the community and not just a small percentage of it as is the case with most of the chain-type stores.

Anyway…off my soapbox. I’m down to one scene (the tough one I’ve been putting off for weeks) then the work begins. I’ve already started minor editing but each read-over finds an annoying number of niggly things that need work.

Whoever said this was easy?

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!!

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WordPress just congratulated me on my first anniversary with this blog. It seems longer than that somehow although I don’t know why. Perhaps it’s that I relate this to the release of “White Wolf Moon” and the process of getting the book into print took much longer than I had expected (it’s the old first-time learning experience thing). It seems like I have been living with that book forever but it too has only been out there for a year.

I remember when Friesen Press first suggested I have a blog. Panic and uncertainty set in but they dragged me backwards, kicking and screaming into this new world. This was the first promotional avenue to be traveled outside of my comfort zone. I’d already set up WWM on facebook but having a few years of experience with my personal page I was at least venturing into familiar territory…this blogging thing was uncharted terrain.

You’d think that after a year I’d have a handle on what I’m doing. I don’t.

Initially this blog was to be a “buy my book” vehicle but you can only say that so many times and in so many ways before it becomes hack ‘n crass. I started venturing “off-topic” and was pleasantly surprised at the positive reaction. A facebook friend (whom I have never met) has a wildlife/photography page and she rarely strays from that topic but she elected to voice an opinion on the current political situation in her country, America. Some people were downright rude with name-calling and the like and many ‘de-friended’ her. How dare she!! This wasn’t what they’d come to expect from her.

Rightly so she stood her ground. This is, after all, HER page and she can do with it whatever she wants.

Here is part of my long-winded comment on her page: “Living in Canada I’m in no position to really comment on the political climate or actions in the U.S. and will never do so but to those who are taking **** to task for the content on HER page…she, like all of us and like life, is more than a singular issue. I love the photography and stories but I will always read her opinions on those other issues. Some of them are admittedly pretty foreign to me but I respect her right and congratulate her on taking such an honest position…so few people do that these days. These ‘drifts’ from the expected content don’t take anything away from the great work she’s doing. I have a blog to promote a book I have written but I will on occasion use the forum to rant about the wolf situation or music, dust bunnies…whatever. It’s my blog and I can do with it what I wish and I have never had a complaint about anything I have written. I know some of my readers skip by those posts that they don’t find of interest and that’s their prerogative…I can’t please everybody all the time.”

Within twenty-four hours she had over 150 comments echoing what I had said.

I’ve tried to analyze what piques most readers interest but other than one (my post on ‘real book people’ that garnered 86 views in one day) most of my blogs seem to be quite balanced as to the number of hits, regardless of the topic. I think this is good?

Whatever…it’s still a learning experience. I’ve said my piece. Now it’s time to move on.

Like the sudden resurgence in downloads of “White Wolf Moon”, this blog anniversary is one of those little things that makes me feel good. The first book has far exceeded my expectations. This raises my spirits as I plow through finishing the second.

If all goes well with a little painting/restoration project I hope to finish up this afternoon, my next blog will also be off-topic. This one will be about thrift-shops and looking beyond the surface.

Having said all that…buy my book!